But calling what New Orleans center Jason Smith did to Los Angeles Clippers star Blake Griffin on Thursday night “a good, clean, hard foul” would be like calling ‘Bounty Gate’ a minor issue for the NFL.
With Griffin driving toward the basket on a fast break, Smith leaned in and blasted him with his shoulder and hip, sending all of Griffin’s 6-foot-10, 251-pound frame crashing to the floor.
Smith was given a flagrant 2 foul and ejected — and could soon face a suspension — but rather than applaud Griffin when he returned to his feet after several moments collecting himself on the floor, the New Orleans Arena faithful instead directed their cheers at Smith as he was escorted into the locker room.
Here’s the video...
Notice how Smith immediately throws his arms in the air in an effort to convince the referees he did no wrong.
“I think it looked a lot worse than what it was, but that’s still not a play that you ever want to do to another player like that,” Smith said after the game. “I apologize to Blake Griffin. I didn’t want to hurt him at all. I just wanted to try and cut off his lane to the basket.”
Griffin was also on the wrong end of highlight at the rim, for a change. He went up for a dunk early in the first quarter only to have Chris Kaman stuff it back in his face. Kaman’s arm smacked Griffin’s face on his followthrough, leaving Griffin holding his head while the Hornets recovered the loose ball and pushed it down to their own end.
Griffin still finished with a game-high 21 points and 11 rebounds, but made only 7 of 19 shots from the field as the Clippers shot just 39 percent as a team while allowing the Hornets to shoot nearly 58 percent.
The Clippers went winless on their three-game road trip and are only 6-9 in the month of March. They’re currently tied with Denver for the sixth spot in the Western Conference with their next five games back at Staples Center. But while Los Angeles has been great at home this season, their 11-13 road record is troubling — even moreso when you consider that they play nine of their final 14 regular season games on the road.